Armed with the newly crowned Hot 50 Selection and a host of wines from across the region looking for distribution, Bordeaux Wines return to the UK this week for Bordeaux Day in Manchester and London. The Buyer’s Mike Turner attended the Manchester tasting on Monday 11th July and gives his top tips for those heading to the London event this Wednesday.
If you like the sound of Bordeaux Day and discovering some great producers flying under the radar – click for tickets at the end of Mike’s review.
Following the success of its inaugural trip up to Manchester in 2021, Bordeaux Wines returned to the city yesterday. The newly minted Hot 50 selection was one of the main draws for a crowd packed with bar and restaurant managers, independent wine shops and wine journalists all keen for a scoop of what was on offer from either themselves or, indeed, the competition on the high street.
Also on show, as in 2021, were a host of wines from across the Bordeaux appellations in search of importers. In 2021 there were no producers in the building. They were all stuck in France due to travel restrictions and they all had to rely on the likes of yours truly to promote their wines to a host of importers and wine merchants. Well, in 2022 the producers are back and ready to chat.
In 2021 the importers were all keen for a bargain, or at least something different to make their portfolio stand out in the increasingly crowded marketplace of wine retail during the pandemic. Let’s be honest, little has changed in 2022. The cost-of-living crisis is starting to pinch the retail sector, and a combination of good value and great stories to tell seem more important than ever. Luckily there are plenty to have a go at and here are some of my favourite picks from around the tasting for you to try at the London tasting this Wednesday…
Château Maine Gazin
The passion project of Aussie winemaker Geoff Cook. Once a part owner of a vineyard in the fashionable Margaret River region of Western Australia, he and his wife now find themselves on a “wonderful piece of terroir overlooking the Gironde.” They’re based up in Blaye and are showcasing the Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux Rouge Prestige 2019. Both the wine and Geoff himself were real hits with the crowds in Manchester. A real champion of Petit Verdot, a single varietal expression will be coming out next year, but for now this Merlot-heavy blend is plenty enough to show that their claim about the terroir is not exaggerated.
Château Toulouse-Lautrec (part of Château Malromé)
Pretty much at the other end of the Bordeaux region, down near the town of Langon is Château Toulouse-Lautrec, once the family home of the famous French painter Henri. Marine Chaligné was there to showcase a Merlot-heavy Bordeaux Supérieur as well as the Couleurs de Toulouse-Lautrec 2019 Bordeaux Blanc, which I thought was a real winner. 80% Sauvignon Blanc, with the rest Sémillon and Muscadelle, the slightly warmer region keeps the acidity in check, and gives balance to a wine that is full of flavour and natural body. The fact the estate can also use Henri’s paintings on their wine labels is an added bonus. Vive la Belle Epoque!
Château De Piote
Corentin Aubrion is clearly an optimist. A fully fledged organic and biodynamic winemaker in a marginal climate, he also brought sunglasses to Manchester! If you can make it past staring at his fabulous moustache, he’s got some impressive wines on show with a mix of everyday drinkers, dinnertime sippers, and special occasion wines. That includes a slightly funky, oxidised style of Bordeaux Blanc that hugely appealed to those seeking different flavours to hit their portfolio. For me though, the Bordeaux Supérieur 2014 made primarily from Malbec had so much fabulous juice and a super long, fresh finish. Well worth a visit.
Vignobles Chaigne et Fils
Another modern-facing château, this time from the Entre Deux Mers region, with quirky labels and a story of mysterious beasts stalking the vineyards. My favourite here was the Encore Soif Malbec 2020, a 100% Malbec varietal and bottled as Bordeaux AOC, this fresh, fruity, and peppery wine looks a bit of a steal at just €5-€7 ex-cellar.
Located around the village of Pineuilh, very near to the eastern edge of where Bordeaux starts to become Bergerac, Château Frontenac has a good range of ripe, sun-drenched wines at very affordable prices. Winemaker Hoka Nakatsukasa has made it over to the UK show off her wares with good quality Bordeaux Supérieur and Bordeaux Blanc, but it was the Moelleux style that caught my attention. I know it’s not the easiest of sells in the UK, but for those after something a bit different at a competitive price point, it certainly ticks those boxes at just €3-€5 ex-cellar.
Maison Bertrand Ravache
Boasting excellent sales in the French off-trade, Maison Bertrand Ravache is dangling three pretty impressive wines in front of would-be importers this year. I saw that its Bordeaux Supérieur and Côtes de Bordeaux wines were both firm favoruites, but I was maybe in the minority that loved the purity of fruit of their 100% Merlot, zero added sulphur, Jardin De Cassie Bordeaux AOC. Again, the prices on all three were €3-€5 ex-cellar, and with biodynamic conversion in the works as well it’s got an increasingly feel good story to sell to your punters.
Château Maison Noble
Last, but certainly not least, I’d recommend a visit to see Jean-Bertrand Marqué, winemaker at Château Maison Noble. A good set of wines, but I confess it was hard to get past the first wine I tried, his Cuvée Maurice Bordeaux Blanc… without wanting to go back for more. 100% Sauvignon Blanc, with lovely ripe fruit, soft acidity and smooth body, and still with great freshness. One of the picks of the day for sure.
So there you go, a few producers and a few wines to have a try of. Remember you can still sign up for London’s Bordeaux Day, coming up this Wednesday 13th July at Arlettie London from 11am. It’s honestly worth it just to meet Geoff Cook alone!
Bordeaux Day in Manchester and London are part of the Bordeaux Wines UK promotional calendar. Tickets to Bordeaux Day London are available here.
For more information about Bordeaux Wines UK, please contact Sabrina Brooks at Cube Communications on firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Turner is a freelance writer, presenter, and judge and regular contributor for The Buyer. He also runs a wine events and e-commerce business, Feel Good Grapes, that explores and discusses the idea of sustainability in the wine trade.